Boer views regarding coloured peoples are those retained from Dutch practices of a hundred and more years ago, when the Cape of Good Hope still belonged to that nation. Servitude, if not absolute slavery, was then generally recognised as the proper status for coloured aborigines, and that principle of differentiation continues to be upheld and applied in a modified form, it must be admitted, in all the Colonial possessions of Holland. The authority for this stand is sought from ancient biblical history, where the descendants of Ham appear marked out for servitude, and from that basis it is interpreted that people so marked are not designed for tuition or evangelization until after they have been subjugated. According to such a doctrine the injunction to preach the Gospel to every creature would be limited to civilized whites, and might only be extended to such coloured peoples who have been fitted, as is said, for the reception of the Christian faith by being placed under the subserviency of whites, as their sponsors if not their actual masters, and requiring mundane tuition and education as essential bases to precede conversion.
For the refutation of such monstrous doctrines it may be urged that, according to Scripture, savage as well as cultured peoples have a consciousness of guilt towards the Divine Judge. The object of the Gospel is to end the history of the culprit as such and to place him upon a new standing—"the wind bloweth as it listeth": a new birth operated by the acceptance of the Gospel proclamation addressed to every creature, black as well as white. Growth and moral amendment properly "follow" that spiritual birth; neither is conceivable before, except purely human education, which is incapable of effecting a change, and in fact tends only to fortify the natural man in his implacable hostility against the newly implanted element, each lusting against the other.
History records how the Spanish and other early explorers operated with the aborigines in the regions discovered by them. The territories with their inhabitants were declared possessions accruing to their respective sovereigns, whose main policy was the exploitation of all the wealth possible. The aborigines were dispossessed, treated as conquered peoples, and forced to do the exploiting labour. No other results could follow than the gradual diminution and final exhaustion of all the wealth and the partial, if not total, extinction of the aboriginal races.
What retribution overtook those nations is also on record. Those enslaved peoples were forced to accept the religion of their conquerors. Can true converts be made to order by constraint, motives of self-interest, or by baptizing them en bloc? What else but deepest aversion and mistrust could a religion inspire which is professed and taught by a people who practise spoliation, murder, and other descriptions of wickedness abhorrent even to a savage mind? The aborigines would daily behold their own land and possessions enjoyed by usurpers and "would be teachers," who subjected them besides to slavery and abject misery. Could the religion of such teachers ever find favour with their victims? How could doctrines of righteousness and love be understood when so glaringly violated by their preceptors?
It presents a sad paradox to see that the Boers, who are in many respects consistently religious and even exemplary, could uphold principles which place coloured people out of caste, not only in regard to political rights but also as to the common religious standing before the Creator. It would be unjust to charge the Boers with actually barbarous practices towards the natives—what they do enforce is their submission to the condition of servants.
The Boer people ever chafed against the restraining action of the British Government as to their practice of slavery, and they have not hesitated either to exhibit their hostility to missionary enterprise. The confiscation of Protestant mission sites in the Orange Free State is one of the instances; another was exemplified in a raid perpetrated about forty years ago by the Transvaal Boers upon the inoffensive Bechuana tribe, whose chief and many of his people had accepted the Christian faith through the teaching of Moffat, David Livingstone, and other evangelists. The pretext for that raid was a lying report that that Bechuana chief had bartered some 400 guns from traders to fight the Boers with. The Boers sent an ultimatum requiring the surrender of those weapons. Despite the protestation of the chief and his people that not more than eight guns had been bartered for hunting, which had later proved true, a commando was sent against them under Commandant Paul Krüger, now President Krüger. Many of the natives were slain, their villages burnt, their cattle seized, and great numbers of the tribe taken captive for distribution as servants among the Boer farmers in the Transvaal. That raid was further signalized by the total destruction of Moffat's mission station—church, school buildings, and industrial shops. These, after being looted, were all consigned to the flames, as also the missionary dwellings, among which was that of David Livingstone, with his furniture, books, and belongings. There are abundant records, besides that of the Bechuana nation, that barbarous and idolatrous peoples are amenable to Christianity without the prior influences of civilization or individual education, or that they should be subjugated first, as the Boers would have it. What indeed is of immense aid for moral and economic advancement is the operation of civilized and liberal governmental authority, repressing slavery, under which proprietary rights and justice are equally afforded to black and white, and where the Gospel might have a free course without constraint and without inducements of material advantages.
It seemed that such conditions were on the eve of eventuating for the rescue and disenthralment of darkest Africa. This is what Moffat, Livingstone, Coillard, and many other devoted servants of the Gospel had prayed for all their lives, what has been and still is the burden of the prayers (no doubt all inspired) of millions of Christians. The interior is no more a blank on the map. Much is done for the suppression of slavery. The whole continent is parcelled out among different nations, who have assumed the task of civilizing their respective spheres. The world's energy and capital stand available for the object, and it appeared that many souls were being seriously aroused to the responsibility of obeying the charge pronounced in Ezekiel xxxiii. 1-11. But sinister influences have not failed in attempts to bar beneficent dispensations. We have seen fanaticism resulting in the fierce revolt of Mahdism in the north, and are now awaiting the issue of the war brought on by Afrikaner Bondism in the south.
12. Another has aptly illustrated the change by comparing such a man's new condition to a hotel that has come under totally different and perfectly new management and controlling proprietorship.